Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Reviewing

As I think about the reviews I am going to write, the following appears on Jonathan Mayhew's blog:

My strategy for reviewing is to perceive the book in as precise a way as possible rather than to praise or dispraise. The praise or dispraise, such as it is, should arise organically out of the perception.

These words are most welcome.

Some other ideals I hope to keep in mind:

1. I will try to discover the book's terms (i.e., its understanding or vision of what poetry is and how it can function) and discuss it in light of them.

2. I will remember that a review is not an entry in a consumer's guide but a discussion that hopes to contribute to understanding.

3. I will resist the impulse to use often empty terms like "good,""bad" and "well-written" and I will ensure that valuative judgments are accompanied by an explanation of the assumptions on which they are based and a justification of the appropriateness of these assumptions given the text under hand.

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